Zia Hassan

The Internets Baby

I used to google health things incessantly. If my head hurt, if my skin was unusually dry, if my mouth felt weird… I’d google the symptoms.

You can guess how that went. After a while, I turned into a full blown cyberchondriac, which is the same as being a hypochondriac, except you not only believe you have illnesses you don’t have, but you also google the shit out of those symptoms until you’re all but convinced that you are dying.

Thankfully, I went through this phase in my 20’s. While my son has been relatively healthy, I’m sure I’d be googling up a storm with every little hiccup if I was in my old frame of mind.

I mentioned to a friend once, a parent of a two year old, that while I don’t google symptoms or health stuff, I do tend to google advice on things like how to get your baby to sleep, how much milk they should have, what type of car seat to use, and how long their naps should be, etc.

All of the advice I tend to come across is a tangle of threads from reddit or Quora or some message board that I’d never heard of and will never hear of again. I told my friend about how everyone seems to have conflicting advice. Things their kid liked or benefited from that other kids didn’t. Except everyone on these threads was fully confident it would work for most babies.

My friend said: “I’ll give you some advice. There’s your baby. And then there’s the internet’s baby. And trust me, you don’t have the internet’s baby… no one wants the internet’s baby.”

Huh. This could be applied to a lot of other google searches.

No one wants the internet’s film collection.

No one wants the internet’s car.

No one wants the internet’s diet or fitness regimen.

We want our own stuff. We want to make our own decisions. We want the consequences of our choices.

We can’t download knowledge from the internet, even if it feels like we can. We can only tell our story. And maybe it will help someone, but it won’t solve a problem.

The internet contains a ridiculous amount of information and it’s constantly growing. But that makes it a flood.

The trick is figuring out, to use an outdated term, how to surf. Surfers ride waves. They’re still in control. They’re on top of it.

The rest of us are inhaling salt water and clutching the internet’s baby, hoping we will make it to the shore.